5 reasons I loathe wrestling streaming subscriptions


Wrestling subscriptions like the WWE Network are a godsend for those who lived in the days when you had to shell out $40 to get PPV. But now that the companies have gone digital they are still doing annoying stuff.

1. You don’t get everything!

I will be the first to tell you that a wrestling company charging you $5 for its content is generous. Sometimes I wonder how they survive. But now that we have shifted from an a-la-cart model to a monthly subscription, it still surprises me the stunts that some of the companies pull

I just invested in the NJPW World subscription so I could be on top of all the hot wrestling from Japan. I was excited that I was going to see some of the hardest workers in the business pulling off awe-inspiring matches. I was sadly mistaken when I realized that NJPW does not have their NJPW Strong episodes on the website anymore and the next big event would cost an extra $30 bucks.

Likewise, Fite + and Impact Plus do the same shenanigans. You can get “most” of the events, but when a really special event comes up you need to shell out the money. That would mean that the fans who love Impact and want to invest in it miss out on Slammiversary and Bound For Glory. I would much rather have an extra premium subscription than have to shell out the $40.

The WWE Network is good about keeping all its content within the subscription. I give them kudos for that.

2. Getting episodes a month late

The WWE Network has a deal with Peacock TV where subscribers get all their content and future PPVs. It’s not bad for $5 a month. The major exception is that anyone who wants to catch up on Raw or Smackdown has to wait a month. The deal with Peacock limits live releases with their main roster shows (NXT is fine). The strange part about it is that the PPVs broadcast live with no exceptions. It is possible to catch all of the WWE Network events on Peacock and have no idea what is happening in the stories and lead-up matches.

On the other hand, Hulu shows the latest Smackdown and Raw episodes but does not play the special events. I guess you could get both services and have a complete package. The other alternative is just to get the stand-alone WWE Network subscription.

Insane Championship Wrestling was the biggest culprit for being late (before they divorced themselves from the WWE Network). They would show their content a month late but would have no problem at all spoiling it on their Facebook page (not cool, bro).

Once again, the local fan who wants to invest in their favorite wrestling company, but has no need for cable, has to find workarounds for all these obstacles. It can be pretty darn annoying.

3. Companies that are technologically ignorant

A while back, I took time to review the Independent Wrestling TV subscription. I surmised that the content on it was amazingly generous, but the greatest obstacle was the cumbersome streaming technology.

There are a lot of subscriptions that showcase the indies (IWTV, High Spots, Fite+). The first thing you realize is that the smaller federations are a far cry in AV quality. The sound is fuzzy, the ring space is in a damp warehouse, and there are only two cameras. I can overlook that, but the stream host used for these small companies is just as cheap.

IWTV and a lot of shows on Pivot Share do not have some of the streaming conveniences we have taken for granted. Shows don’t save your spot if you have to stop watching, rewinding and fast-forwarding are a nightmare, and apps freeze or crash. A lot of these companies do not have the know-how or funds to fix these things.

I was convinced that this issue pertained to the smaller groups until I realized that the NJPW subscription had similar issues. The streaming services wouldn’t pick up where I left off on some of the shows I was watching. I tried to skip over to the NJPW Amazon app, but that introduced even more problems.

4. Disorganized Interfaces

Why do most people get into wrestling subscriptions? They want to watch the latest content in one central place. Imagine if you had to sift through the WWE Network website to get the latest Raw episode.

Oddly enough, a lot of streaming interfaces for wrestling shows are terrible. The NJPW subscription page has to be translated into English, but also finding current shows is more difficult than it should be. Since NJPW shows AEW and Impact content, their own shows can get lost in the shuffle.

Fite+ has a dedicated page for their subscription, but they don’t sort their wrestling shows by promotions. If you want to find anything specific you have to search chronologically. Impact’s YouTube subscription is cluttered mixing the premium content of their shows with the free content.

5. The Price??

AEW is four years old now and there is no convenient streaming service in sight. The only way to “stream” the latest episodes is to spend serious cash on cable. If you are the type of person who also craves BBC, Home and Garden, and MTV2 then maybe you won’t mind dropping $40 a month for cable. I  joke that buying the AEW Fight Forever game is probably the cheapest way to see AEW content.

There are other wrestling promotions that I have been eager to see, but I realize their price point is too high. Dragon Gate is known for its amazing martial arts, lucha, and wrestling styles, but $14.99 a month is asking too much for 46 shows a year. That is Xbox Game Pass prices.

Likewise, if I ever wanted to get into Iceribbon and Pure-J Joshi wrestling I would need to part with $9.99 a month. I am tempted, but I don’t think the value will add up.

I get it. These companies cannot stay afloat without earning extra cash. We should be grateful that they even exist at all. In AEW’s case, they are still running on a business model that was built in 1999.

I have to give credit to the WWE Network, ROH Honor Club, and Wrestle Universe. They are considered the most generous and competent wrestling services. They are worth your money and fandom.

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